Spirituality

Finally, the “A” Part of this Q&A Blog (Predestination)

As I continue with this blog, I am recognizing something that should have been obvious to me from the get-go: Forming the questions is easy – taking the time to really explore the answers is much more time consuming and difficult. Hehehe. Maybe I just thought no one would actually read this stuff! But I really do want this to be a learning experience and not just a forum for me to spout. 🙂 Therefore, I’ll be revisiting some of my previous questions periodically to address the incredibly thoughtful and educated answers some of you have provided. If you can bear with these more detailed posts and provide further feedback or references, I’d very much appreciate it!

Today, I’ll take another look at predestination. (If you want to read the original post or comments for context, just click on my last post on the right-hand side of your screen. The comments are at the bottom.) There are a number of verses in scripture that speak to apparent predestination – God choosing some of us for Heaven and others for Hell. Romans 9:18-23 is a very interesting passage and verse 23 speaks of God preparing some “…in advance for glory…” I also questioned verses that refer to God hardening hearts or sending people “delusions” that they should believe something false.

One commenter (biblecommentaries) made the very interesting assertion that “A difficult teaching cannot be correct if it contradicts one which is easy to be understood.” However, some of the verses that confuse me are really not so complicated except when considered against other verses. Take, for example Romans 9:18: “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” Not hard to understand, but the idea that God would actively prevent anyone from seeing truth is very difficult for me to accept and seems contrary to the overall message of the New Testament.

The consensus among my two commenters concerning my questions about 2 Thessalonians 2: 8-13 (this passage concerns God sending “delusions” to some after they reject Him so that they would believe in false things) was that He allows them to be deceived. But I think there’s a big difference between “allowing” and “sending.” The verse seems to state very clearly that God is the one making it so (2 Thessalonians 2:11). This is one of those passages that makes me wish I could read the original language! Insight anyone? Biblecommentaries’ comment also pointed to specific context, which I can certainly appreciate. The passage in Thessalonians appears to be about the end of time and should be considered within that framework.

Biblecommentaries’ view is that we become predestined for heaven after accepting Christ. She referenced Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” This verse, however, doesn’t speak to me about the issue of predestination. She talked about predestination as one of those blessings mentioned, but I don’t see how that tells us when it is bestowed. Does anyone have other verses that would speak more specifically to this issue?

So, after exploring the answers provided I must confess I haven’t yet found quite what I’m looking for when it comes to predestination. This issue still confuses me.

While I respectfully and maybe incorrectly disagree with my commenters concerning the scripture about God sending delusions and hardening hearts, I did find an absolutely beautiful passage in Romans that gave me peace on the issue. I hope you can take similar joy and fulfillment from it: 

In this passage, Paul is speaking about the inclusion of gentiles as God’s children. Romans 11:17-24

  • 17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing rootc of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. 23And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

 

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4 thoughts on “Finally, the “A” Part of this Q&A Blog (Predestination)

  1. Really this is a good blog, you shouldn’t be surprised that it attracts readers. I’m only surprised it doesn’t attract more.

    The verses you quote from Romans have nothing whatever to do with “predestination”, but are an analysis of God’s purposes for the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles in one body, with Paul using “olive tree” rather than his usually prefered term of “body” or “church”. However, the fact that you can be “broken off” if you turn away from Christ in unbelief explodes the idea that you are going to heaven no matter what YOU do (thought erroneously by some to be a definition for “predestination”).

    I appreciate that this blog is about the MOST difficult subject in the Bible, but so long as we realise that predestination is an eternal blessing, we will see that it can only be bestowed in eternity. We were not in “eternity”, but now we are. We did not even exist when God made the world, but now we have eternal life. Christ was there in eternity. He is eternal. Being joined to him we share his eternal life. That is why election is linked to our being “in Christ”. Only those “in Christ” can possibly be elect, for indeed, they are elect ONLY with him. Jesus Christ is the elect one, and all who are joined to him are elect with him and because of him, not because of themselves.

    Was it the film Galdiator that claimed “What we do here echoes in eternity”? The quote is true. We receive Christ while we live, and so our choice echoes with God’s choice of us in eternity. but God is not confined to time. His choice was not made in the past, or the present, or the future, it is an eternal choice.

    To quote F.F. Bruce, “So far as the personal experience of believers is concerned, their entry into the relationship described by the words “in Christ” took place when they were born from above. But from God’s point of view it has no such temporal limitation. Those He chooses are objects of His eternal choice and that eternal choice is so completely bound up in the person of Christ that they are described as “in Christ” before the cosmos was made. Here is a mystery before which we do well to acknowledge our own limits of understanding.”

    Keep delving.

  2. Thank you again for reading and for your kind comments! I didn’t post the Romans passage at the end of my blog in reference to predestination at all, but rather in reference to the question of God hardening hearts. What I love about it is the clarification that God may choose to use his power to harden hearts for a larger purpose, but that those people aren’t cut off, if you will, indefinitely. They can come back, God can “graft” them in again. 🙂

    I will give your comments on eternity some real thought! The quote you referenced is a great one. I know I need to be aware of my “…own limits of understanding” but I don’t think I’ve reached them just yet!! Take care!

  3. We’d be happy to give you our take on both predestination and time (which is a bit different than any of the comments here or the ones in your commentaries) on Tuesday. As you have noted, this is a huge issue and has to do with how we understand the character of God. Might be worth forgoing John for a week if need be… 🙂

    I agree – this is a good blog. Love the way you think!

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